Friday, August 12, 2016

Podcast: Musical Chairs (A Radio Pilot, 1990)

In March 1990, Donald Brackett and I were growing concerned that music programming on the radio was becoming more niche driven. Since both of us grew up in an era when radio often turned you on to a vast palette of diverse genres, we wondered if we could create a show that – given these limiting programming changes – might accommodate more broad selections of music. We came up with an idea called Musical Chairs where we would create an identifiable theme of interest to a larger audience and then use that as our laundry line in which to hang a vast assortment of musical styles. The first show, which John Corcelli produced in the studios at CJRT-FM, was an examination of music that characterized the city as a homeless and hostile environment rather than the romantic vision heard in songs like "Chicago" and "New York, New York."

The selections included Charles Ives' "Central Park in the Dark," Ornette Coleman's "Skies Over America," Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City," Bernard Herrmann's score for Taxi Driver, Bruce Cockburn's "Inner City Front" and concluded with Aaron Copland's "Quiet City." We also added the prospect of interviews on the show by including one with writer Timothy Findley talking about Toronto while in town promoting his book of short stories, Stones. Since I was just beginning work as one of the producers at CBC Radio Prime Time, I didn't have the time to promote the pilot, but Donald sought out interest both in Canada and the States. No one nibbled enough to take it on. So despite coming up with ten other episode ideas, we only got this far in what you might describe as a map of what we might have accomplished.

– Kevin Courrier

The full radio pilot of Musical Chairs can be heard here.

Donald Brackett is a Vancouver-based popular culture journalist and curator who writes about music, art and films. He has been the Executive Director of both the Professional Art Dealers Association of Canada and The Ontario Association of Art Galleries.  He is the author of the forthcoming book from Backbeat Books, Back to Black: Amy Winehouse’s Only Masterpiece, released in November 2016. In addition to numerous essays, articles and radio broadcasts, he is also the author of two books on creative collaboration in pop music: Fleetwood Mac: 40 Years of Creative Chaos, 2007, and Dark Mirror: The Pathology of the Singer-Songwriter, 2008. He is currently working on new books about the music of Scott Walker and Jack White, as well as an art book on the history of modernism.

Kevin Courrier is a freelance writer/broadcaster, film critic and author (Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa, Randy Newman's American Dreams33 1/3 Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask ReplicaArtificial Paradise: The Dark Side of The Beatles Utopian Dream). Courrier teaches part-time film courses to seniors through the LIFE Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto and other venues. His forthcoming book is Reflections in the Hall of Mirrors: American Movies and the Politics of Idealism.  

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